Polyamory and Promiscuity

polyamory and promiscuity

I’m on a personal journey to understand what I actually feel about monogamy, and to uncover that truth, I’m exploring polyamory. It’s not my first experience with a non-monogamous relationship, but dating and polyamory turns out to be quite different than the closed triad relationship I was previously in. One thing I’m learning is that people have some interesting ideas about what polyamory actually means. Of particular amusement is the difference between polyamory and promiscuity.


Polyamory isn’t all about sex. I’ve never been much of a one-night-stand or hook up kind of person. To me, it’s more about quality than quantity. I’m in this to build meaningful connections with the people I create loving space with. Those meaningful connections can take on many forms, since the technical definition of polyamory is to have many loves.


These connections can look like deeply affectionate friendships. Girlfriends and guy friends who I’ve bonded with. Maybe we have sleepovers that include some non-sexual physical affection. Maybe we just rant and rave and share our dreams while our kids slay the local playground. 


This can look like friends who I have deep affection for and who I connect with primarily on the physical plane. Our bodies want to hang out from time-to-time and we also like and respect each other enough to be transparent about the connections we are enjoying with other people. We share sweet, affectionate correspondence beyond trying to navigate the next time we can see each other. We take interest in each other’s lives without many demands or expectations being placed on the other person.


Some day one of these connections might be a combination of the two; a deep friendship and sexual partnership that isn’t built around the idea that we two will be ‘it’ for each other. Instead we will be ‘it’ to ourselves first. We’ll both be clear on the idea that truth and transparency are key. We’ll respect each other’s needs beyond the space we share. We’ll lean into each other and know that we have each other’s backs, and when we need to lean away from each other, we’ll feel safety in that too. Hopefully we’ll have some spectacular adventures together (both sexually and non-sexually) and build family and an amazing circle of friends. I want to throw great parties with my consort some day.


I don’t have many free days left in the week when I’m not mothering my kids. This tiny window doesn’t afford much time for the harem that some people might imagine. There are moments where it’s difficult to say no to some of the offers on the table, but I have to remember what really fills me. I suppose at this point, I’m dating and exploring my options. 


I’m listening to my gut and my heart and actively trying to redefine myself as a mother first, a storyteller second and a lover third. After decades of defining myself in terms of relationship, stepping into the space I deserve as an artist feels like rewiring my brain to some extent. I have to stop looking for validation in seeing a flirtatious text exchange evolve into a fruitful date, instead of in the number of words I put to paper each day. I get caught up in overthinking personal dynamics instead of losing myself in the edits that I still need to finish on my novel.


I need to be promiscuous with page counts.


One thing that has become clear is that without the ability to ask questions, talk about needs, and communicate from the heart, you’re not talking about polyamory. It’s likely just casual sex without attachment or complication. Or emotional unavailability borne of past hurt and fear. Maybe both.

Vulnerability and communication are sexy as hell to me. Another thing I have to remember is that communication isn’t always unpacking feelings and ideas in conversation. Actions, gestures, and the way someone reveals their character is a very valid form of communication.


So, sure there are plenty of polyamorous people out there juggling several lovers. It’s only one month into this exploring, but I don’t logistically see how that poly girl could be me. 

Real Talk About Polyamory

This morning I hopped on Facebook to chat about my early explorations in polyamory. As always, I want your questions on sex, relationships, and heart space. You can send them to me here.

Polyamory and Monogamous Conditioning

polyamory

I’m on a quest to do more for myself than I’ve ever done before. More healing, more growth, more knowledge and power. I’m tackling each day with as much mindfulness as I can muster, now that the crushing sadness of last year’s heartbreak has shifted.

Today, I’m struck by how deeply ingrained certain patterns are when it comes to romantic relationships. I’ve committed to trying out this polyamory business. This idea of finding meaningful physical and emotional connection outside the parameters of monogamy.
Polyamory (n.) — The practice of participating simultaneously in more than one serious romantic or sexual relationship with the knowledge and consent of all partners 

But there are certain parts of me that seem deeply conditioned for monogamy, and I wonder if there can be space for both. If any of you poly types are reading this, I’d love your thoughts in the comments section below.

Here are a few things that I’m noticing:

I fall for the idea/fantasy I’ve created of someone before really knowing them. I’ve got such an active imagination, and I live for characters. So many times in my life, I’ve fallen into that ‘head over heels’ narrative, only to be devastated when the person I’ve placed on a pedestal reveals their less desirable human frailties. How about I take some time to see if all that surface attraction can be supported by some excellent values and qualities?

I’ve believed that I need a partner in order to be fulfilled romantically. I’ve moved on from thinking that I need a partner to complete me in any way, or to have a richer life. I don’t think that there is one great soulmate that I am destined to be with in this lifetime. However, I seem to be holding on to this notion that if I’m going to share heart and bed space, there needs to be one lover who rises above the rest. I’ve created this idea that I’d like a primary partner.

What if my life could be just as rich without a primary? For those of you who don’t know, a primary partner is the romantic relationship that takes top billing in a polyamorous lifestyle. Not all poly people have a primary, but those who do tend to treat that relationship more like a traditional partnership. Primaries set their own ground rules and boundaries that are mutually adhered to. I’m not anti-primary, but I think I need to shift from feeling that this is an end goal.

I want to fill up all of my brain space and physical space with a new lover who I happen to be excited about. I realize this is largely a chemical response that is driving me to procreate, but still, I’d like to think I’ve evolved past this. Sure, I can feel like I need a cold shower anytime a certain someone blips on my radar (every hour, by my last count), but I don’t have to act on that. Instead of texting incessantly, I can pour that frenzy into my art. Or into self-pleasure. Or a good work out. I love that feeling of delicious passion and attraction, but I’m growing to love my solitude and self-reflection just as much. Sometimes more because I can ugly cry to Netflix shows and fart in bed.

I confuse incredible chemistry with anything other than the chemical reaction that it is. I believe sex is sacred and holy. When I’m in that space with someone, I feel like I’m deep in prayer. I feel the essence of life, and my connection to the universe in that space. This is one of my superpowers. So, I suppose it’s easy to see why, in the very rare moments when I match with someone in a balanced, sober level of attraction, I can get confused.

There’s always the possibility that this delicious chemistry can produce something lasting and precious, but that only happens with time, and careful tending. And seeing people clearly when the fuck fog has dissipated. Amazing sex goggles can be real bastards. What’s more, it is my right to appreciate and enjoy this kind of sizzling sexuality without having to define it or label it to make it more palatable to anyone. Sometimes, people are going to enter my life only to rattle my headboard. That’s totally okay.

I start to set aside my desire to explore other people when I find someone I really click with. I’ve dated people who have basically said ‘if you give your partner permission to be with other people, sometimes that’s all they need in order to be able to walk away from that temptation.’ Testing the boundaries of monogamy to continue to exist in monogamy isn’t really the point. I see how polyamory might be a form of self-protection for me. I haven’t had this much therapy to be blind to that, but I’ve earned the right to protect myself and see how this particular shield serves me.

I believed that I was polyamorous before, and therefore know what I’m doing. Though my last relationship started as a valiant attempt at polyamory, it ended up a lot more like polygamy. The reality is that I did not feel like I had the freedom to explore my own desires in an authentic way, and the lines of communication were not the clear and open channels people need to succeed in the polyamory experience.

I am more interested in a scenario where I get to articulate my own needs and wants, and then realize them. If I end up with a primary, we would both ideally be self-aware and articulate about our needs and desires, and hopefully those would line up well. Meanwhile, I have so much to learn about how to be careful with other people’s pride, their hearts, their fragile egos, their valued needs, while still making sure mama gets the love she wants. 

Lovers who feel they can’t be enough for me. If I have chosen to share space with you, it is because I want to share my own space with you. I don’t need you to fulfill me, or to fill in any of my cracks. Oh wow, I walked into so many crude jokes there, didn’t I?

I want to walk with you, but I don’t need you to hold me up. I’m not comparing you. I’m enjoying your unique skills, insights, dreams, desires. I like the way your energy swirls with mine. The space we share is ours and ours alone. I enjoy what is unique about you.

Polyamory allows people to show up exactly as they are, and offer only what they have. This is only possible when you let go of the notion of one person being everything you need in one partner for the rest of your life. Maybe we’ll keep choosing to walk with each other until we’re done with walking, but I’m not out to find that. I’m out to find me and that’s the lifelong union I’m committed to.

Is this a selfish quest I’m on? Possibly. Could I get a few months into this and decide it isn’t for me? Sure. I’m giving myself that space for authenticity. I will say though, the more I resist my old monogamous patterns – the old ideas that there is another ‘half’ to me in someone else, the more of my own power I see.

I’m not out to break hearts. I think any of my lovers, or potential lovers, will vouch for how clear I’ve been about my journey through polyamory. Our needs and desires aren’t always lining up, but that’s life. I value each of them and the space they have shared with me. I feel a thrill when I think of the new companions I will meet and experience. This feels like an adventure instead of a minefield, and I absolutely love that dating is fascinating, and strange, and fun.

It’s a whole new ballgame when you become your own special someone.

I’m going live on Facebook on January 30th at 9 pm EST to discuss polyamory and to answer your dating, relationship and sex questions. Send me your questions, or suggestions for topics you’d like to discuss below. I promise to protect your anonymity.

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Summoning Mythical Beasts

Photo by Igor Saveliev

What does love look like when you’ve exhausted every convention, and tried everything you knew how to do to make it last? Does one resign oneself to the notion that they ‘aren’t the marrying kind’? Do they give up on any type of domesticity with a person to share that with?

I see a path where I’m a lone wolf, only keeping company when mood and opportunity align. There’s something deeply alluring about that path. And yet…I just can’t stop chasing this notion that somewhere out there, a true Pegasus awaits. Some mythical, winged beast of a man who can land in my unicorn pasture and slay convention by my side.

Here’s what I know about love and partnership. Here’s how I’m working to define what love could look like again:

Truth and transparency is more important than monogamy.

Truth can only come from self-awareness. I need a partner committed to realizing their higher self and understanding and articulating their own needs. 

All we have is the present moment. I want someone who can occupy the present with me and who will strive to remain there.

My sexuality is sacred. My passion runs deep. In the rare instances where I’ve been met with chemistry and connection that seem equally balanced, my heart and soul get involved faster than I want them to. I need to learn to be the master of that powerful energy.

I want to cook with someone, nurture them and care for them. Help them articulate and realize their dreams while feeding my own fire and realizing my own dreams. I want to lavish them with love, and I want that kind of willingness to reciprocate.

My children deserve someone who will adore them and bring something beautiful into their lives. I want someone who will love my children as their own, while understanding that their role isn’t entirely parental.

My place of pain limits me just as anyone else’s does. I don’t want to be on a pedestal. I want someone who will navigate the dark waters with me. 

Family and my family of friends are deep and powerful connections in my life. I need someone who also knows what this means. I want to merge our tribes and have a house full of memory-making.

I want to see someone as they truly are and still love what I see.

I want a lifetime of playful, adventurous, sacred sexuality. I want to feed and nurture that with my partner with as much loving attention as we give to all of the other important facets of our life. I want to honor that space by showing up in my honesty and vulnerability, by exploring and experimenting, by challenging boundaries, and I want to do this as a unit.

I want a horned god that I can worship, who will fall to his knees before the goddess in me.

I want an intense and visceral physical attraction that is reciprocated. I want to know how much my partner loves the way I look, feel, smell and taste.

I need someone with true alpha energy, not that bullshit toxic masculinity, to create space for me to enjoy my alpha female tendencies. I want that primal shit, but back when they worshiped voluptuous goddesses. (Does anyone else feel like this is an entire blog post right here?)

I am an artist. I need someone who has their own passions that they are compelled to explore, just as I am compelled to lose myself in my writing. I need my partner to have tremendous respect for my artistic space and my talent.

I want a kind of hedonism that is tempered by consciousness, financial responsibility, healthy living, and self-care. Is that a thing? Can we start a movement?

As I type these words I find myself laughing. How could any one person tick off these boxes? Have I become so jaded that I’ve raised the bar to Olympian heights because I’m too afraid to be hurt again? 

Some of you will read this and say, “Why not be all of those things to yourself?” I am. I strive to be, every damn day. I’m really nailing this, as a matter of fact. It’s a good exercise; list everything you dream of in a partner, and then be all of those things.

I’m not lonely, and I’m okay alone, but to allow myself to imagine the kind of life I could live, with my flanks cooled by the powerful wings of a Pegasus? Now that’s the kind of magic that I want. 

Meanwhile, the grass is tasting pretty sweet in this unicorn pasture of mine.

Sex and Body Image

Did you know I have a live weekly show on Facebook with my brother Kyle Andrew? We’re on every Wednesday at 9:00 pm EST to talk dating, relationships, healthy living and sex. You can find us right here. On last night’s show we tackled sex and body image with our special guest co-host Nekky Jamal. Nekky is not only one of my life partners, he’s also an amputee who wears a full leg prosthesis. Some really interesting stuff around disability and sex came up, of course.

Here are some links to some fascinating articles on sex and body image:

A Psychology Today post on Understanding Core Erotic Wounds

A Huffington Post look at Body Image and Low Sex Drive

A post on How to Love a Sexual Partner with Body Image issues over at Ravishly.com

Tips For Overcoming Body Image Issues in the Bedroom:

1. Stop looking only to celebrities and online personalities for beauty standards. These people are ‘professional beauties’ who devote their working hours to looking a certain way, and have a team of people to help them with that. They also have retouching.

2. Social Media isn’t much better. I definitely use selfie filters to get the best lighting and to create photos I feel good about posting. Most of us only post the very best highlights of our life. Social media isn’t any more real than other types of media, even if you know your contacts IRL.

3. Look at real people, in person, who are in your age demographic (or beyond) and start to really notice what you find attractive about them. Sit in a cafe or other busy public place and people watch.

4. Take note of how your standards of attractiveness compare to how you feel about yourself? Are your personality standards realistic considering your lifestyle?

5. What kind of messaging do you giving yourself when you’re in front of the mirror? I can be pretty brutal on myself. Work on changing the message by replacing a negative thought with something you like about your physical appearance or your personality. This will take some practice, but try to keep things in perspective. Get rid of the notion that self-love should be easy. It isn’t. Our bodies aren’t perfect, but we can move from brutal self-criticism to gratitude for our health, our safety, our privilege.

6. Take better care. First take a look at how you feel about your body and work on changing your messaging. Then start to approach any physical lifestyle changes you might wish to make, like healthier eating or more regular exercise. Without changing the way you think, changing the way you behave will be much harder.

7. Talk about it with your partner. Be as open and vulnerable as you can. If negative body-image is affecting your sex drive, this will help illuminate any challenges you might be having in the bedroom. Think of ways you can both help to make you feel more confident and comfortable.

8. As you’re learning how to change your self-image, take stock of what does make you feel more comfortable sexually, and implement these things. Do you feel more confident with makeup on? Dim lighting? Lingerie? Music? Run with these ideas so you are creating a comfort zone for yourself that feels safer while you work on healing

If your negative body-image issues are tied to disordered eating, please know that without professional help, these behaviors are nearly impossible to change

The National Eating Disorder Information Centre

Eating Disorder Hope Resource Page

Some Awesome Books About Body Image
Here are some books that I can recommend about body image. If you purchase these via the links below, you’ll be helping to support my writing.